Coeducation and Men's Athletics at Longwood
Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
Longwood became fully coeducational in 1976 and established its first men’s intercollegiate athletic program that year in the sport of basketball. That first team in 1976-77 was the beginning of what would become the school’s six current sports offered for males.
Today, the University fields successful men’s intercollegiate athletic programs in the sports of baseball (1979), basketball, cross country (2001), golf (1977), soccer (1977), and tennis (1980).
Men’s athletics began competition over 30 years ago as a member of non-scholarship NCAA Division III, and the program moved forward into scholarship Division II membership in 1980-81. Today, Longwood competes in Division I men’s golf while on the verge of receiving its Division I certification for all sports. The Lancers anticipate full Division I-AAA (non-football) membership and eligibility beginning in September. The men’s programs have developed and traveled a long way from their humble starts.
Baseball has enjoyed the most success among male athletics at Longwood as 29th-year head coach Charles “Buddy” Bolding has guided the program to 761 wins prior to this season. Coach Bolding and his program advanced to the NCAA Division II post-season six times between 1982-93, including two World Series appearances (1982, 1991), while enjoying 26 consecutive winning campaigns (1979-2004) prior to playing a Division I schedule in 2005. Remarkably, the baseball program has averaged over 27 wins per season since its inception with six former players drafted professionally – the most notable being Michael Tucker who played in the major leagues for 12 years (1995-2006).
Men’s basketball is the highest-profile sport at Longwood and has garnered over 400 wins since 1976-77. The program has enjoyed three 20-win campaigns over the years, including four NCAA post-season appearances, while featuring Jerome Kersey who played professionally in the NBA for 17 years (1984-2001). Amazingly, in only its fourth year of existence, the program advanced to the 1980 Division III Final Four as the 1979-80 team finished a school-record 28-3. The Lancers compiled back-to-back post-season Division II appearances (1994-95), and also advanced to the Division II national tournament in 2001. Since beginning the reclassification to Division I, men’s basketball has competed against the likes of Virginia, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, San Francisco, Southern California, and Wake Forest.
“Student-athletes having a positive college experience here at Longwood is imperative to all of our athletic programs being able to perpetuate success at the Division I level,” explained fourth-year men’s basketball head coach Mike Gillian. “This is especially essential for us as a Division I men’s basketball program, because without the ability to attract the level of student-athlete necessary to begin achieving success at this level, we would obviously not be in position to continue moving the program forward. The players in our basketball program have found their Longwood experience to be fulfilling in all areas: academically, socially, and in the athletic arena.
“As we continue to build on the opportunities that are presented for our student-athletes as part of this wonderful institution’s overall mission, I am confident that they will be successful.”
Men’s soccer enjoyed an eight-year period (1981-88) of early success during the 1980s, compiling a record of 104-32-20 that included three Commonwealth of Virginia state championships and six All-Americans. Wrestling played an important role among men’s athletics at Longwood as well with intercollegiate status from 1978-2001. During that time, the program claimed five state titles while qualifying 15 individuals to the Division II national championships. Additionally, men’s golf is the other Longwood men’s program that has made NCAA post-season appearances over the years (1980, 1996-98, 2001-03) while also winning three state championships.
“It is amazing how things have changed within men’s intercollegiate athletics at Longwood over the past 31 years,” said interim Director of Athletics Troy Austin. “The first men’s basketball team in 1976-77 had 10 members, one coach, and played 11 games. Presently, Longwood fields six athletic teams for men, has over 100 male student-athletes, 14 coaches, and is scheduled to compete in over 140 events during 2006-07. Back then, the Lancers played against the likes of Averett, Ferrum, and Mary Washington; now, Longwood competes against such teams as Virginia,
Virginia Tech, and VCU.
“Indeed, coeducation has played a major role in the development of intercollegiate athletics at Longwood
and its impending NCAA Division I status.”
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